09/03/2009 03:53 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

History in the Making

This week, the Senate will make history -- the kind of history that makes our country proud. When the Senate confirms Judge Sotomayor, she will become the first Latina, the first woman of color, and only the third woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Sotomayor is an extraordinary person, who combines exceptional academic and legal qualifications and an impressive tenure on the bench with an abiding commitment to public service and an inspirational life story.

The selection of this exceptional woman demonstrates how the nation can benefit from the talents and skills of women and people of color at all levels of our judiciary. When she is confirmed, Judge Sotomayor will bring the number of sitting female Justices back up to two. As Justice Ginsburg said in May, "Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. . . It shouldn't be that women are the exception."

My organization, the National Women's Law Center, strongly supports the nomination of this outstanding judge.

The Center endorsed Judge Sotomayor's nomination after an extensive review of her legal record on issues that are of particular importance to women, her public statements and her testimony during her confirmation hearings. Our analysis is explained in our report, The Record of Judge Sonia Sotomayor on Critical Legal Rights for Women.

Our review allowed for only one conclusion: Judge Sotomayor is an impressive judge who is deeply respectful of legal precedent and who anchors her decisions in the specific facts of each case. Attempts to label her an "activist" judge ring hollow.

Judge Sotomayor's testimony at the hearings emphasized her true respect for precedent that her record reflects -- key for women who have secured hard-won legal rights and protections under statutes and the Constitution. And she demonstrated her remarkable legal expertise, proving under intensive questioning that she is extremely knowledgeable about the settled law that she promised to respect.

So it is surprising and profoundly disappointing to see how few Republicans -- a mere six -- have announced their support of her nomination so far. And it is dismaying to see how many of those who oppose her nomination have tried -- in blatant disregard of the facts - to paint her as an "activist" judge whose personal beliefs and preferences dictate the results in her courtroom.

Unfortunately, these spurious charges are aimed at the wrong nominees. For all their talk of balls and strikes and impartial judging during their own confirmation hearings, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, joined by their conservative brethren, have effectively eviscerated legal protections that women relied on for decades -- including the ability to redress pay inequity, protections for women's health, and protections against unequal treatment for pregnant employees.

Those Senators who haven't made up their minds should look at the facts, which demonstrate that their colleagues' rhetoric flies in the face of Judge Sotomayor's record, testimony, lifelong accomplishments, and unparalleled qualifications.

Judge Sotomayor is a remarkably qualified, gifted and inspiring woman who belongs on the Supreme Court. Republican and Democratic Senators alike should vote to confirm her resoundingly. The time for this watershed moment in our nation's history is now.